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WhyPanama
Costa del Este
Panama City, Panama 







Donna


Tom


Tom



More News - 2012 and earlier

December 2012

Christmas in Panama -

While most people in Panama enjoyed Noche Buena - the Christmas eve traditions in Latin America Donna and I had a really nice quiet day at home together with Cricket. Cricket has been a lot better recently which has made Christmas so much nicer.

Christmas morning was us up getting ready for Christmas dinner with our friends. This was going to be our last Christmas in Panama with one of our friends as they are moving to Argentina this week. We will miss them a lot but it gives us a real excuse to have to visit Argentina - not just because of the wine :}

We had way too much food - it was all excellent - a mixture of Canadian, French, Argentinean and Panamanian :} crazy.

We talked with family and friends in Canada over Christmas. We miss seeing them but we sure don't miss the weather - 20+ below - yuck. And what's with the storms in the USA and England this week. We've had more rain recently but compared to everything else it is nothing.

Looking back over 2012 it was an interesting year in so many ways. Donna has her best year ever with her tours both in number of tours and number of guests. She also flew the most number of miles in a year - over 110.000 miles. We met some new people and visited with some friends who visited Panama, some for the first time others on their 3rd trip. We had to rebuild our cars engine after it died and continued to do more work on the condo. We're thankful that our family have all been healthy and happy through the year. One of my business partners came through some extremely tricky surgery and is recovering well. I started diving - what a great hobby. I look forward to passing my advanced diving certification.

Around Panama it didn't seem like the city got into the Christmas mood. When we moved here over 6 years ago Costa del Este and the city was alive with Christmas. There used to be so many lights and decorations everywhere. But this year Donna and drove around Costa del Este, the city along the Cinta Costera and into Casco Viejo. Very, very little sign of Christmas. The Cinta Costera used to be a major Christmas decoration from one end to the other. This year it is a tiny little space near the end. We still had a great time wandering around Casco Viejo in spite of it dumping on us part way into our walk. The first photo shows some of the decorations in Casco Viejo, the second image on the right shows off some of the other interesting buildings. This area continues to just get better and better. When Donna & I first visited Panama City in 2006 we both fell in love with Casco Viejo but in practical terms it would have been really tough to live there and have an office.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've Canadian, and you've moved here recently let us know - we'd love to know some other Canadians in Panama.  

more news >>

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Mid December already. Incredible. We passed the once in a lifetime 12, 12, 12, 12:12:12:12 - and one of our favorite stores Bon Vivant chose this interesting time last Wednesday to have their grand opening. If you love great food, wine, beer, and treats you owe it to yourself to visit - just be warned that you will likely walk out with several bags or boxes :}

Wednesday we had lots of friends stop by and say "hi" during our open house. This is a 20+ year old tradition that we've always enjoyed. Every year see some different people and that is fun as it adds to the mix.

On Friday Cricket had her Christmas party - her boyfriend Mr Lucky and her girlfriend  Sheeba came over for a visit. Cricket enjoyed barking along with them every time Mr Lucky thought there was something we needed to know about. That euphoria continued into Saturday where for the first time in a few weeks Cricky had a great day with us.

Around Panama City - what a zoo. With payday, mid December, shopping, construction and just general craziness the roads have been nutty. It took us 20 minutes to go less than a block in Punta Pacifica last week. I should have known better - MOP is working on the new overpass, underpass on avenida Brazil and via Israel. Thankfully we don't really have anything left to go shopping for this year.

Both of our vehicles are in the hospital - one for a complete engine overhaul and the other for a list of repairs. We also have several other condo reno projects left over the next few weeks. We are so blessed in so many ways - things like the car and the renos are examples - I can't imagine coming to Panama and not having any access to the people we've met that have helped us navigate these type of things.

I was emailing with Tom Brymer from The Panama Perspective about a comment he made on how the new free trade deal with the USA should provide more USDA beef at better deals. What I asked Tom was if he knew of any butchers in Panama that brought in real grain/corn fed beef that knew how to cut a real Prime Rib Roast. While he did not know for sure, it led me to finding a cross reference chart for beef cuts. Now I have to find a butcher who cuts non-Panamanian grass fed beef.

While lots of our friends in Canada are shoveling out everyday or bundling up to go out for their walks or to work - we remind ourselves that the little bits of rain we get during the end of the rainy season is so much nicer. I know some people don't enjoy the humidity but compared to the alternative I have to say I love going for my morning walk - my biggest decision is what pair of shorts or t-shirt to wear.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've Canadian, and you've moved here recently let us know - we'd love to know some other Canadians in Panama.  

 

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It's been another very busy week. Why is it that holiday seasons are so packed with activity? Some of it we do to ourselves. Getting ready for our Open House means getting the Christmas decorations and Dickens village set up and making sure we've done all our shopping. Donna did the tree with her Teddy Bears - even the angel on top is a teddy bear. She also included a number of my soldier ornaments. It is so full it is just bursting with things to see.

Then there is our business - this time of year as we get close to the year end our sales jump as prospects make decisions prior to the year end. I am not complaining - the alternative to being busy is not a pretty thought.

Our little Cricky has had an up and down week - she showed so much improvement during the week our hearts soared :} but today has been one of the not so good days. All we can do is just keep loving her. We had to try and find her some ostioarthritic pain pills. Thankfully the vet down the street is open Sundays and he gave us the prescription and I got the pills from Melo. How great to see her moving about again and not telling how much it hurts.

 

 

Here is the Dickens Village - we used to have dozens of these houses back in Canada but when we moved we had to bring just a few to remind us of what it used to look like. I tried to find a picture from our old house in St. Albert but I couldn't find one. The village scene used to cover an entire 4 ' x 8' table - it was huge - we knew we'd never be able to have that in Panama. The apartment is just too small.

If you've been following this site for any period of time you will remember all the articles I've written about the land titling issues in Panama. A couple of our friends have tried for years to get their beach property and house titled. With all of what they've been through I was becoming pessimistic that it would ever happen. Well, we heard from this week. Their title has been registered and they are now the proud owner of a titled piece of beach property on the Caribbean side of Panama. I am really pleased for them and it gives me some hope that maybe some day we will have our own piece of paradise.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've Canadian, and you've moved here recently let us know - we'd love to know some other Canadians in Panama.  

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The holiday season is upon us and it's still strange in some way to have it green and warm when I talk to all our friends back in Canada and it is 30 below - yuck.

After 6 years we are still very happy we chose to move here. I am sure that has a lot to do with how fortunate we've been with so many things. I've spoken with lots of expats that move to Panama and within a couple of years start thinking about moving back or to somewhere else. Panama is just not for everyone. It looks like a first world country from a distance but the closer you get the more you realize it is a third world country with all that means.

If you knew then what you know today - would you still have moved to Panama - I would love to know.

Come the new year we will miss our neighbour - they are moving to Argentina - they have been such good friends for 6 years we will miss them for sure. I know they are looking forward to seeing their families after a lot of years.

Our little 14 year old Cricky is really showing her age lately and I get choked up just thinking about her but I know she's had an amazing life. We've both talked about and even though we've had furry friend as a pet every year of our 37 years we won't have another - it is just too hard - we will become like grandparents and baby sit other peoples dogs and enjoy them for the time we have them.

November has been another record breaking rainy month - Panama has always been rainy in October and November and generally there is some flooding somewhere but every time I check the news there is another note of some major flooding and death. Every time of year is bad but this close to Christmas is horrible to have a family tragedy.

What do you do that is special every Christmas - do you have some special traditions? Not having children meant Donna and I have spent a lot of Christmases doing our own thing so 20 + years ago we started inviting our neighbours in St. Albert to our house for an open house. What a great way to get to know your neighbours. All those people you see watering and cutting grass but don't know any more than their face. We got to know some great people over the years. We tried this in Panama and our neighbours in our building just did not understand the concept of an open house. Oh well. 

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've Canadian, and you've moved here recently let us know - we'd love to know some other Canadians in Panama. 

 

 

November 2012

We went to the Caribbean this weekend as we normally do every few weeks. We've been on the Caribbean side of Panama every month of the year but I have never seen the water as angry. There has been a ton of rain and the run off has made the Caribbean so brown and uninviting. It rained almost the entire time we were there. To top it all off on the way out in our radiator in our car blew and by the time we could pull over the engine was at the top. We stopped immediately and waited for it to cool down. We could see the crack in the top of the rad so we knew it would not be just filling it with water. We had our friends in the city find one and bring it out. In the meantime we towed it to the house. We got the rad replaced and tried the engine - our normal good luck failed - the engine was ceased. So now we need to find a new engine.

The car has been so good to us we will get it fixed.

My dive instructor, Rey Sanchez drove us back to the city. We talked the whole way back about diving in Panama and like Panama there are lots of different areas - so far I've only been around Portobelo but he told me about Coiba and the are Pacific around David. Rey is such an amazing instructor and is so good at what he does I am stunned he is not swamped with people wanting him to lead them diving around Panama.

The next few months I have so many projects. We found an office but we need to gut it and redo the interior, the plumbing and the electrical - all of the staff are so looking forward to getting back to an office - -then we have the car, and then another condo.

Christmas is almost on us or so the stores would have us believe. We are looking forward to seeing our friends but sad as one of our best friends is moving to Argentina so this will be our last Christmas together in Panama.

If you are looking for a great gift idea think about donating to the shelter - Thanks Ida and Veronica for your donations.

more news >>

Mari posted a new note on her shelter face book page https://www.facebook.com/#!/hogaralbergue.sanroque - pleading for help in food donations - do you know anyone who can help - do you know anyone in Panama who runs a restaurant or bakery that would be willing to donate left over food or bread .....

There are thousands of dogs who deserve this kind of of life.

Can you spare $10 per month to help one needy dog or cat ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat. Imagine, giving the gift of food and love to one dog or cat for 10 per month - less than a cup of coffee once a week.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've moved here recently let us know.

 

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I was going to say how isolated I felt sometimes. I just got back from Long Island New York and you could tell it was a very pretty area with lots of trees, landscaped yards and kept neat and tidy - that is of course until Sandy hit and then the snow storm after. Today there are so many broken trees and downed lines and signs. Very sad.

Then I realized I am not isolated so much as insulated. We keep up with world affairs online and TV and we have lots of news feeds. But living in Costa del Este, Panama City, we are so insulated. Even with the flooding in Colon or the riots in the city and road closures all over the county nothing seems to encroach on our little world.

Donna has a lot more brush with the world with her travels than I do and I know she is more aware of the issues others face every day than maybe I do.

We met a really interesting couple yesterday from Canada. Dan and Carolann are intrepid travelers. They have not only visited so many countries on their trips but they immerse themselves in the countries they visit. Whether it is playing ball with locals or spending a year learning Mandarin before their trip to China. Nice people. I hope they enjoy their short visit in Panama. Check out Carolanns = "mature traveler" blog http://maturetraveler.blogspot.com/ or Dan's blog at http://moissecooper.blogspot.ca/

I really enjoy doing tradeshows and traveling but I really, really enjoying coming home. :} This trip I decided since it was a short 2 days I would just wear my comfy pair of boat shoes - what a mistake - for some reason the first evening after traveling all day (car, plane, train, train, cab) I was taking off my shoes and 2/3rds of the bottom sole detached from the left shoe - horrors - no spare pair, no time to find a new pair (the show started at 7am) so out came the trusty duct tape :} What did man do before duct tape :} - oh well - I am sure everyone who saw me thought I was either the cheapest guy around or very hard hit by the hurricane -- glad to be home so I can wear a pair or flip flops again :}

Mari posted a new note on her shelter face book page https://www.facebook.com/#!/hogaralbergue.sanroque - pleading for help in food donations - do you know anyone who can help - do you know anyone in Panama who runs a restaurant or bakery that would be willing to donate left over food or bread .....

There are thousands of dogs who deserve this kind of of life.

Can you spare $10 per month to help one needy dog or cat ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat. Imagine, giving the gift of food and love to one dog or cat for 10 per month - less than a cup of coffee once a week.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've moved here recently let us know.

 

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This last week was busy. We had our business partner visiting from Canada. We needed to finalize our new office location and the purchase of a condo and meet with the staff as we near year end.

Beyond business, it is always fun to have friends visit as it gives us an excuse to have other friends over for wine and nibbles. We got to do this twice - as we had to celebrate Alans birthday too :}.

We also eat out much more during those visits. We went back to il Grillo again - always yummy - but then we went to the new Tres Scalini here in Costa del Este - wow - it was excellent - all three of us enjoyed our meals - the ambiance was perfect - really !! - the service, excellent - attentive without hovering - and the food was tasty, great portions and nice presentation - all for a very fair price - 12-20 per main dish. We will go back like we do to il Grillo. A great new addition to Costa del Este - welcome Tres Scalini :}

Ted & I went to Costa Abajo using the new Colon freeway all the way to the city of Colon. It had to drop another 10-15 minutes off the trip. I enjoyed showing Ted how pretty that coast is and how it is different from Costa Arriba. We stopped at Tommys for ceviche on our way back. Very tender pulpo ceviche.

I've mentioned this before but it is worth repeating. When Ted arrived I used the VIP services at the Tocumen airport to meet him at the arrivals gate, take him through Immigration and Customs, bring him to a waiting lounge with refreshments while they collect the luggage. Well worth the cost to make the visit that much more pleasant.

We are looking forward to meeting a new couple looking at making Panama their new home. I always enjoy hearing what they are looking for and answering some of their questions. You know we love our new home - Panama - but you also know we know it is not Canada or the USA and there are lots of things new people need to know.

We went to visit our foster dogs today and took them their special treats. It was so good to see Pastorcita 2 gaining some weight and not looking so skinny. I am so thankful to have Chito and his family looking after the 3 dogs - and to see how they look forward to him coming near their area. Their tails wagging and jumping up - really warms my heart.

There are thousands of dogs who deserve this kind of of life.

Can you spare $10 per month to help one needy dog or cat ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat. Imagine, giving the gift of food and love to one dog or cat for 10 per month - less than a cup of coffee once a week.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've moved here recently let us know.

 

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It's good to have Donna home - she isn't traveling for a couple of months - wahoo :}

We went out with out friends Alan & Geri to Il Grillo and enjoyed it as always -  I really am looking forward to trying Tres Scallini one of these nights.

My friend John was here for a couple of weeks. It is always fun to have him visit - especially when Donna is away as we get to spend time together. We went out on boys night out to several pubs. Nino was our designated driver so we could enjoy some beers together. We went to Casco Viejo, Amador and then Calle Uruguay. I have to admit I am not the party animal I used to be years ago. See some of the pictures here

This coming week we have our business partner Ted coming to spend some time with the staff. We think we finally have a found a new home for our company. What an ordeal just trying to find something that will give us a permanent office where we can have 12 or more people. It is going to take us a couple of months to get it ready but I am excited that it should be ready by the new year.

Donna wanted me to tell you about Costa del Este. You will remember in the past few weeks I've mentioned how all the silliness in Panama totally avoided Costa del Este well what struck her as interesting is that the police in our area use brand new black Mustangs and white X6 BMW's. Pretty upscale police :}

I was emailing a new expat coming to Panama who wanted to chat. I am looking forward to meeting him and finding out what he is looking for in Panama.

Panama is so many different things. From islands in Bocas to beaches in Pedasi or the Caribbean. From mountains near Boquete and Volcan to Altos de Maria near the city. From the city live of Panama City which is even broken down to the funky Casco Viejo and El Cangrejo to areas like our Costa del Este. There is no one Panama.

I finally put up some pictures on my scuba lessons - if you are at all interested contact Rey Sanchez at www.GoldenFrogScuba.com  - he is a great teacher.

We went to visit our foster dogs today and took them their special treats. It was so good to see Pastorcita 2 gaining some weight and not looking so skinny. I am so thankful to have Chito and his family looking after the 3 dogs - and to see how they look forward to him coming near their area. Their tails wagging and jumping up - really warms my heart.

There are thousands of dogs who deserve this kind of of life.

Can you spare $10 per month to help one needy dog or cat ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat. Imagine, giving the gift of food and love to one dog or cat for 10 per month - less than a cup of coffee once a week.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've moved here recently let us know.

 

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Hurricane Sandy hitting the USA had an impact on Panama! - Donnas' flight home through New York JFK airport has been cancelled and she now has to figure out how she is going to route from Taiwan to Panama. Thankfully she is on her way home and not going out to a tour. I know this is such a small inconvenience compared to what Sandy has already done going through the Caribbean and up the US east coast let alone what it is going to do to New York and New Jersey the next couple of days. We have a number of clients in that area - I hope they will all be safe during the storm.

 Speaking of safe. This past week in Panama has been crazy. The Panamanian government made a decision to sell the land in the Colon free zone, some say for a fraction of what it might be worth and that the land was ear marked for government cronies. This sparked a firestorm of uprising in Colon. People in the streets blocking roads - stopping the transport of goods. They were making a statement of discontent. Then something very different took over. Unions and Indian groups took up the "cause" (I say cause almost tongue in cheek) and then students in the city. Within 5 days the InterAmerican highway, the road to Colon, the Corridor Sur and numerous streets in Panama City were closed. Then almost unbelievably it got worse - gangs started roaming the streets, looting, robbing and threatening cars and police. All of this I knew about because of online forums, our employees and news websites. Quite frankly if it wasn't for the lack of construction workers in Costa del Este I would not have known there was a problem. What a difference a few miles make. None of this stupidity spilled over into our area.

What makes drivers in Costa del Este think that that old white guy walking the little dog will know where Copa, or the synagogue or the Toyota repair dealer is located. It never ceases to amaze me how many stop and ask me for directions - there are guards all over the place, other people walking the street but they zero in on me. I am not complaining - I love the practice - I just wonder where the "information here" sign is located :}

No new restaurants to report this week - but I did buy some coupons from OfertaSimple for Segundo  Muelle in San Francisco - from the web site the food looks amazing. I am also looking forward to trying the new Tres Scalini in Costa del Este. 

I mentioned a few weeks ago the boom in building in Costa de Este. I think it is so funny to see the "waves" of construction. When we moved here there were almost no apartment towers, virtually no commercial office buildings and 2 small strip malls. Restaurants - virtually none.

During the 6 years we've seen almost 40 apartment towers start and occupy, then the rush turned to commercial buildings 13 have sprung up and now new strip malls - this past year we've seen 7 start. And restaurants, wow, there are now 20 - all of this in 6 years. What will the next 6 years bring I wonder. Our friends Wayne & Elaine haven't been here for 3 years - when they come in January they won't believe the changes.

Can you spare $10 per month to help one needy dog or cat ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat. Imagine, giving the gift of food and love to one dog or cat for 10 per month - less than a cup of coffee once a week.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've moved here recently let us know.

 

October 2012

Well Donna made it home safely from South Africa Friday night. We had a nice relaxing day Saturday. Most of our staff and friends came over for a BBQ and swim. Our friend John is here only for a couple more days before he heads back to Alberta.

Donna left this morning bright and early for Taiwan. She is going to a travel mart and to check out Taiwan for a potential future tour.

She had an amazing time in South Africa as I suspected she would. I know she was apprehensive going as it was her first time but once there and once she figured out that the elements of the tour like the hotels and choices of locations were great she started to relax and enjoy SA. She ended her almost 3 weeks with a trip on the Blue Train from Cape Town to Pretoria. It was eventful but I will let her tell the whole story. You will need to check her facebook GardeningTours page or her site ICanGarden.com

The weather has been as expected - some major rains and some gorgeous days in between - compared with snow flurries back in Alberta - I'll take the rain :}.

One of our employees wifes went in for a "C" section today - here's hoping both mom and new babe are both healthy.

Off to see our little foster dogs today - Pastor and Pastorcita - I really enjoy visiting and knowing they have a great home. I only wish all of the dogs I see could be so fortunate. On the way to Albrook to drop off John there was a really sad doggy who had been run over. He was still on the road and buses and trucks could not swerve to avoid his dead body - I was really sad and just hoped his end came very quickly and painlessly. It is why we are so passionate about helping the strays and Mari's shelter - it just breaks my heart to see so many strays, so skinny, hunting for food - let alone ever knowing any love or caring --- if you think you can - please help

Can you spare $10 per month to help one needy dog or cat ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat. Imagine, giving the gift of food and love to one dog or cat for 10 per month - less than a cup of coffee once a week.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've moved here recently let us know.

 

-------------------------

I hope all my Canadian friends had a great turkey day. Even though Donna was in South Africa it was still a nice day as I was invited to Alan & Geris for dinner.

My friend John arrived this week and I used the VIP service at Tocumen airport to shepard him through the immigration and customs. It is such a great way to soften the introduction to Panama. Well worth the cost.

We went to the Caribbean to spend a couple of nights at the house we rent near Portobelo. Portobelo is preparing for the Festival of the Black Christ so it is really hopping with artisans and food stalls. The weather was spectacular for this time of year. It rained like crazy the first night but the next day it was spectacular - we got to swim and just relax. Here is my happy face and John just chilling on the sea wall enjoying the sun set, listening to Bob Marley and having a brew.

Donna is home late this coming week for one day - then off to Taiwan. This is almost her last trip.

You have to see some of her pictures of South Africa - they are amazing - https://www.facebook.com/#!/GardeningTours

 She was looking forward to South Africa but until she got there I don't think she had any idea what to expect.

 

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat. Imagine, giving the gift of food and love to one dog or cat for 10 per month - less than a cup of coffee once a week.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've moved here recently let us know.

 

-----------------------

 

It's hard to believe it is October already - Happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian friends.

I've spoken with a number across the country and they are all preparing for winter. There have been snow flurries already in the higher climes and the coast is preparing to bring in the tender plants.

In Panama things are pretty much the same - just a bit more rain - but that is expected. It is the rainy season after all.

Donna is in South Africa leading one of her tour groups and then she no sooner comes home but she turns around and heads out to Taiwan. I am looking forward to her being home all of November and December - it will be a nice treat.

One of my good friends from St. Albert is coming for a visit this week. John has been here 2 times before and each visit we have a great time. I don't expect this to be any different.

Today I had fun and baked bread. Great stress reliever. Not just kneading the dough but enjoying the smells. Speaking of food we went to a new restaurant in Costa del Este - Tanta - check it out in food.

The elections in Venezuela have been a hot topic here in Panama during the past few weeks as people weigh in on what the results could mean to Panama - in either case. There are lots who believe the Venezuelans would return en masse to Venezuela leaving the real estate market here in a shambles if Chavez loses and even more coming to Panama if he wins. I think the market here is more than Venezuela as it is more than the USA when the real estate there went into the dump.

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat. Imagine, giving the gift of food and love to one dog or cat for 10 per month - less than a cup of coffee once a week.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've moved here recently let us know.

 

--------------------------

This is our 6th anniversary in Panama. Donna & I visited Panama in April 2006. We came to Panama to simply check it out - we had pretty much decided that we were going to buy two pieces of land on the Yucatan peninsula, it was just the suggestion of our partner that we look at Panama first - just to be sure :}. We had visited Mexico for over 22 years and we very comfortable with it as a place to live. What we found in Panama was not only a place we could live but a place we could run a business. So we made the decision to move to Panama.

The next question was where. Unlike most retirees we were not able to look at all of Panama as we needed the infrastructure of the city.  So where in Panama City. We both loved Casco Viejo. I really liked El Cangrejo but for an office neither were the best choice as the employees would likely live either across the bridge or out closer to the airport. So we began looking in San Francisco and Costa del Este. We ended up choosing Costa del Este. In hindsight we both agree it was the best decision. Six years later and the services are growing. We are seeing new restaurants, new shops, office options and it still feels less crazy than the city. We wake up Sunday mornings and enjoy the piece and quiet.

We decided to create this website for three purposes. First, the name Why Panama came from the question "why did you choose Panama not Mexico". Second, we have been so fortunate in our dealings in Panama that we wanted to let other expats moving to Panama take advantage of that experience and finally we wanted an outlet to let our friends in Canada and others know what live is like in Panama week by week.

If you haven't followed us for the full 6 years we have a history of all of our weekly comments year by year check them out in "more news".

Back on our favourite topic - food :} We decided to go to the Crowne Plaza's La Galeria restaurant for their Indian buffet on Friday night. Check out our review in "food".

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat. Imagine, giving the gift of food and love to one dog or cat for 10 per month - less than a cup of coffee once a week.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've moved here recently let us know.

 

 

September 2012

 

Six years and Costa del Este has changed a lot. If  you've been following this site for some time you know we've posted the same 3 pictures of the view out of our condo window every month. The building has been crazy - when we moved in to our place there were 6 condos either finished or under constructions - now in Costa del Este alone there are over 30 condo towers. The top picture is December 2006 - our first Christmas in Panama. The bottom pictures I took this morning.

The same is true for the commercial buildings in Costa del Este - when we moved here there were 4 finished and one being constructed. Today there are 12 pure commercial buildings and 3 more with mixed commercial and residential.

I just read Kent Davis's newest newsletter. In it he says that the mass of new units hitting the market on Balboa avenue have had little or no impact on pricing. I have to admit I do not understand where all the people and money is coming from.

On another note, I purchased a book called "Eye on the Road". It is a book written by Evan Forbes. Evan runs the website "Eye on Panama." This is his story of how he became a traveler and world adventurer. I am about half way through it and I've enjoyed getting to know him a bit more than just from his site. Funny, I have yet to meet him - but then being as far apart in age as we are and running in very different circles I guess it's not that odd. Check it out on Amazon.

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've moved here recently let us know.

----------------------

It's hard to believe that it tool almost 60 years for me to find out how amazing it can be to see the undersea world. I always believed my ears would not allow me to scuba dive. What a shame. I had another great day diving with Rey at Golden Frog in Portobelo. It so interesting that 90 feet underwater feels the same 10 feet. But the scenery is so different. Rey came away with 2 lobsters - how he spotted them I still don't know but he did. We also say a school of King Parrott fish - he saw some very large tuna and groupers but I didn't. I am really pleased he took his underwater camera with him. Mine goes to 10 feet which is cool but his goes to 200 feet :}

I got some great news this week. A friend of mine here in Panama just shared some pictures of her new pet Husky - she rescued her from a crate where someone left the dog to starve and die. Unbelievable to me. But I am thankful there are people out there like my friend willing to give them a home versus going out to buy another pup or dog from a pet store or street vendor wanting to make a buck. You've heard me talk about Mari Pily before - she runs a rescue shelter in Arraijan where cares for and feeds hundreds of unwanted dogs and cats. Hundreds - she spends thousands of dollars every month feeding and treating their injuries and illnesses.

Mari has some close friends and expats who help support her shelter but every month she runs out of money and some of the dogs have to go hungry for while until she finds money or food.

Mari posts pictures and information on these dogs and cats that need a home hoping someone will find it in there heart to give them a home just like my friend did with husky. 

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've moved here recently let us know.

--------

I know this is the rainy season in Panama but Friday was an incredible day of rain - the thunder and lightning. I read recently that some 12 people have died in Panama from lightning this year - not something I've ever thought about - but with the lightning on Friday it's easier to see why. Compare that to Saturday morning. We woke up to a gorgeous morning. Sun shining, light breeze, and no real clouds. We did have rain and weather in the afternoon but nothing like Friday.

I haven't talked about food for ages. I let some coupons from OfertaSimple expire - what a shame. So we decided to make sure the last few didn't. The four of us went to Maranello's Italian restaurant. Located on via Argentina just off via Espana. More like a family run restaurant it is not fancy but the pizza we had was yummy. The crust was crisp and tasty. Donna was a bit disappointed in hers but it was more an understanding of words- salchicha - could mean sausage but just as well it could mean hot dog - well in her case it was hot dog - not the most appealing topping for a pizza :} Mine was fine - selection of meats. I would have added some more olive oil but 8 dollars for a 12" pizza is hard to beat.

Speaking of food we went to the event at Atlapa last Sunday called Panama Gastronomica - an event that showcased restaurants and restaurant supply companies. Some of the stalls offered selections of food and some offered wine. Geri and I got the ticket to what was called the Ruta de vino :} and we drank our way around the stalls :} - One of the most memorable was Bon Vivant - the soon to be opened store in San Francisco that is run by Oriol from SDS Wines, my favourite wine store that used to be in parque industrial Costa del Este. Oriol created a really unique bistro in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the convention. We had the pleasure of meeting his new employee Julie - a wonderful person who I know will be a great new addition to Bon Vivant.

When Bon Vivant opens next month I will give you a lot more information. I am really looking forward to seeing what they do with the new store.

We drove out to the Amador causeway this morning just to see what is going on and to enjoy a pleasant early morning walk with Cricket. It was nice to see that new park benches and garbage cans all along the causeway. This is such a pretty part of the city to visit. We love bringing guests here as it provides such a unique view back to the city, the bridge of the Americas, the ships waiting to enter the canal and the new hotels across the canal.

If you are dog or cat person - please read on - here in Panama there are so many strays (because Panamanians think spaying and neutering is cruel) - a friend, Mari Pily has been taking in these strays to her shelter for years. She really needs help with vet bills and food.

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

------------------------------

This week I am probably going to upset some people with some of my comments.

Getting used to a new culture can be difficult. One of the things that is different from North America, at least in my opinion, is the emphasis on children. Here in Panama every little girl is a princess, every little boy a prince. They even dress them that way. It means if you are a princess or a prince you can do no wrong. Scream, holler, rant - that's your right. No matter who's live you upset.

We both work hard and it's nice on the weekend to look forward to a nap on Saturday and Sunday. So many weekends though we have to close the entire apartment, turn on the AC and put in ear plugs as there are a number of kids screaming in the pool for hours. Or there is a birthday party going on. Or a 15th birthday or.... you get my idea.

After about a year in Panama I remember asking if there were any "adult only" buildings or communities - I was looked at like someone from another planet. Who would want that? In fact we were told that would not be legal. I see it is one thing sadly lacking.

The other thing we ran into was the lack of concern for your neighbour. It seems that neighbours don't matter and even asking the security or the board don't see any real problem.

Oh well - one more thing to get used to.

If you have been reading this site for a while you will know how much we enjoy the Caribbean vs the Pacific. We've enjoyed renting a beach house from a friend who owns the most amazing one near Nombre de Dios, and we rent one right now near Portobelo. We started talking about owning something that we could go to anytime and that we could rent our. So Donna & I along with out friends Alan & Geri went to see the Bala Beach development near Maria Chiquita. This is the only development on the Caribbean right now beyond a few homes at San Morino. The prices are high - as much per m2 as the condos in Costa del Este. So we had some pretty high expectations. We met a really nice fellow, Joshua at Bala Beach - he showed us the 2 bedroom unit (89 m2) - small, but we didn't mind the layout - especially for weekends or weeks but long term - not sure. What did put us off was the quality of finishing. What a disappointment.

I guess we will continue to rent :{

On another note - it is the beginning of fall in Canada - I know this not becomes of any change in Panama but because this is the weekend Donna & I enjoyed every year in Edmonton because it was the weekend of the Symphony Under the Sky. Four nights and one day of some amazing music. We had the same seats every year for at least 7 years. We had fun meeting the same family that had the same seats in front of us every year. This year I understand they had to move the concert indoors because of inclement weather.

I was in Chicago for 3 days last week meeting with my business partners and participating in a trade show. I haven't been in Chicago for years. The weather was very similar to Panama that week - 30+ degrees C and lots of AC :}

If you are dog or cat person - please read on - here in Panama there are so many strays (because Panamanians think spaying and neutering is cruel) - a friend, Mari Pily has been taking in these strays to her shelter for years. She really needs help with vet bills and food.

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

August 2012

So what to do if you decide Panama might be your choice of location for your retirement.

Step number 1 - do your homework. Spend time on the we web - ready everything you can about the country, the history and the people. Panama' s history goes back well beyond the arrival of the Spaniards in the 1400's. When the Spaniards arrived in Panama they put Panama in the worlds spotlight by using it as one of the 3 staging points for the shipment of gold & silver back to Spain. For over 500 years Panama has been a key to the world. In 1914, the opening of the canal, catapulted Panama back into the worlds spotlight. There are have been some dark days in its history too with Manuel Noriega. It is worth understanding how Panama has impacted the world and how the world has impacted it. Look into the visa requirements and ensure you are going to be able to live in Panama.

Beyond background information, get involved the the expat community in Panama via some of the Yahoo groups - ask questions, try to understand what it is they like and dislike about Panama. Try and find some who decided to leave and find out why.

Step number 2 - understand the geography and the various areas and cultures. Panama is a small country both in population and in land mass but its length, narrowness and its touching both oceans make it very unique. From the islands of Bocas del Toro near Costa Rica, to the almost untouched Azuero Peninsula, to the cosmopolitan Panama City to the coasts of the Caribbean and the mountain areas of both Boquete in the west and Altos de Maria near the city. This means you can choose the temperature means, the amenities and the proximity to what you need like hospitals or social interaction. Decide if you want to live more like a local or with other expats.

Step number 3 - plan your visit - rent for weeks or months. Rent a car or plan on using taxis and buses. If you are unsure of the areas, visit all of them long enough to ensure you've been able to determine if it really could be "the" place. Remember when planning your trips that Panama has two main seasons - dry and rainy - and each area is impacted to greater or lesser degrees by both of these seasons. Plan to visit your area of choice more than once during these seasons. 

In 2007 Donna & I went sailing in the San Blas with our friends Wayne & Elaine. We had a great time and the islands and the water was amazing. We snorkeled and swam all over during the 4 days. You aren't permitted to scuba.

During our time sailing we commented often on the state of some of the islands. It was not unusual to seen islands where the palm trees were simply falling over into the Caribbean. The islands were being eaten away but the sea. Some of this was likely due to the removal of the mangrove over the years to be replaced by the coconut trees that could provide an income. But its not hard to understand the role or the rising oceans.

This week Susan Guberman Garcia sent a link to an article from Rueters entitled "Rising Sea Drives Panama Islanders to Mainland" here is the link - click here  

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

------------------------------

Continuing on my comments about moving to a new country to retire I have to add some comments about health and health care.

Coming from Canada health care is something we all loved to hate. The refrain you hear from Canadians all the time is "we are so lucky to have free health care, look at what the Americans pay for their health care". Then in the next breath you hear "why is it I have to wait 6 months or a year to get into surgery, I know my illness in not immediately life threatening but I can't function without the surgery". That's the rub with Canadian health care - the individual provincial governments decide what health care parameters to set. I used to hate going to my GP, not because I didn't like him, I did, it was because I would an appointment for 10 am and would 1-2 hours more before I was ushered into a tiny room, told to strip and sit on the cold bed and wait some more. The Don would run in, do a cursory exam, ask a few questions, offer a prescription, tell me to dress and off he'd go to the next cubicle. And just a note in case you really don't know - Canadian health care is not free - it is paid in the personal income tax and that can be brutal - 40+% in some cases (not like the uber rich in the USA that report 13%). Imagine not having to pay that 40+% - how much health care could you afford to pay and what level of service would it provide.

When we moved to Panama we initially took out Blue Cross/Blue Shield for our health care needs but after a few years we realized the day to day costs were very affordable and we did not need insurance for those costs, we needed insurance for some catastrophic medical event so we changed to BUPA. Even though our deductible is pretty high it is nothing considering they are willing to cover 1-2 million of medical costs per year.

And to the quality of care here in Panama - that's up to you. There is everything from locally run clinics to high end professionals. My doctor grew up in New Mexico and moved to Panama several years ago and specializes in internal and aging. Right up my alley and I can reach him via email as he has a blackberry and he answers.

Beyond coverage issues, the other main considerations is access to the medical care. Where would I get it and how far will that be from where I am considering?

Living in Panama City means you are within 1/2 hr of reaching any hospital or clinic or doctor. On the other hand, living somewhere like Bocas del Toro where it is really pretty and a much more laid back life, you could be 2 hrs by air or 10 hours by bus if you need major medical care not offered in David.

Panama is expanding its hospitals and its air services but there are still lots of locations that would mean hours before you could reach serious health care and that could be the difference between life and death.

Ten years ago I would never have thought this to be a big deal but some things that have happened to me  recently that certainly brings this home.

If you are looking at a piece of property somewhere stop for 5 minutes and ask yourself - "if I needed a hospital in a hurry - how long would that be - and would I survive that amount of time?

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

-----------------------

With more of our generation retiring and more than ever considering somewhere in the world other than Canada or the USA the question always comes up - what's it like to live in Panama (or pick any other country).?

Anyone who knows Donna and my story know that 6 years ago we decided to move from Alberta Canada. Initially we thought it would be somewhere in Mexico as we'd vacationed there for over 20 years. But my business partner Ted suggested we take a "quick trip" to Panama and see for ourselves what it was like compared to Mexico - we were here 4 days in April 2006 and by August 2006 I had moved and Donna was here after selling everything in Canada by October 2006.

We never recommend anyone do this - it's just stupid - we leapt over the preverbal cliff without looking - not very bright - I am just so thankful everything worked out - our pensionado visa, our condo purchase, new office, employees - our choice of location -

Panama City if a very cosmopolitan city on the surface - we just tell people to remember it is a third world country firmly rooted in a Latin American culture that is very different than North American culture. It is not just the language that is different - it goes much deeper.

Before you make a decision like this ask yourself - why are we wanting to move out of Canada or the USA? Is it the weather, the cost of living, the pace of life, the taxes, a desire for something new - be honest with yourself.

Then ask yourself - have we ever spent anytime out of our country? If you did, when you lived somewhere else, did you immerse yourself or just stay in your comfort zone?

Visit the countries you are considering - spend lots of time - talk to lots of people who have made the move. Ask why some leave for their home country.

Living in a foreign country comes with lots of good and not so good. Over the past 6 years we've encountered all of these.

The good - lower cost of living, better weather, lack of taxes, access to beaches, learning a new language and culture.

The bad - corruption, ineptness, lack of service orientation in business, lack of rule of law, lack of access to some basic goods and services, ignorance of the ways of the rest of the world.

Don't get us wrong, after 6 years we still think we should have done this 10 years ago in spite of all the hiccups :}

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

-------------------------

When is a warranty not a warranty? -- When you are in Panama and purchase a brand new high-end dishwasher from what turns out to be a very disreputable store. Even though warned by a knowledgeable designer that this stores service was horrible who would believe that a store would try and wiggle out of a warranty by saying that because they didn't do the install they were not responsible for the warranty. Only in Panama. It's another case of having to know what questions to ask before buying anything and if someone warns you it's probably because of this kind of incredibly poor service.

Speaking of incredible. This past week I ran across the most unbelievable example of stupidity. I told you a week ago we are in the market for a new office. One that would be close to our home if possible. We found we had to start looking outside Costa del Este as the prices were just crazy - 20+ per square meter per month - plus common costs and utilities and in some cases it would be necessary to do improvements like floors :} - We found one reasonably priced option and we contacted the lease agent. Before they would talk with us they wanted us to fill in their form and provide all the information like copies of our identification, corporate papers, bank references, personal and corporate references as well as a short precise on the company and its business. When pressed the agreed to tell us the price and inclusions but no more until we filled in the form. When we instructed our lawyers and bankers to comply we asked again as we were short on time and then came the kicker - because "we" ( I presume me) were foreign, we needed to provide a Panamanian guarantor and they would have to supply 2 years of income tax receipts to prove their ability to guarantee the rent.

Now you need to know I would classify this as Class "c" or "d" office locale that anywhere in North America would be very difficult to rent and the leasing agent would be jumping on anyone who expressed an interest and could "fog a mirror" - not here - it's like they could not care less that someone was interested - complete the application as we outlined or we won't consider you. 

We're not in Kansas any more - obviously :}

Living in a foreign country comes with lots of good and not so good. Over the past 6 years we've encountered all of these.

The good - lower cost of living, better weather, lack of taxes, access to beaches, learning a new language and culture.

The bad - corruption, ineptness, lack of service orientation in business, lack of rule of law, lack of access to some basic goods and services, ignorance of the ways of the rest of the world.

Don't get us wrong, after 6 years we still think we should have done this 10 years ago in spite of all the hiccups :}

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

-------------------------------------------------------

I told you last week I spent the weekend out at a friends place  on the Caribbean with the office staff. Monday, Donna arrived home and Wednesday and Thursday I ended up at home sick - and I am still not 100% 4 days in - I've talked to a number of people who either know someone going through this or just getting over it - yuck. I never used to get colds or flus, maybe because I worked from home so I had little or no contact with other people or because here in Panama they use so many antibiotics that I think they must breed some really interesting bugs.

We've still not found a home for the office so it is likely we will need to send everyone home to work from home for a week, a month or whatever it takes to find and move the office. I still can't believe what some of these new office towers want for office space to rent or purchase  - we're not in Vancouver or Toronto, we're in Panama. I know we will find something.

I've been missing all of our times visiting restaurants recently using our OfertaSimple coupons - I even had to toss two away as they were expiring and the restaurant would not extend them for a few days.

After our trip to the beach we took our truck into get detailed using another OfertaSimple coupon and when it came back Nino was not thrilled with what they did so he is taking it back - I will let you know the outcome.

I get asked all the time - doesn't it rain a lot. My answer is always the same. Yes, in the rainy season there is a lot of rain. Today for instance we started the day with great weather - hot, muggy, but still great. Then the afternoon the clouds start to roll in and we get a storm. This will give you some idea of how socked in it can get. Some of those towers you are looking at are 70+ stories tall. :}

 

If you read this once in a while you know we try hard to help at least one of the many worthwhile groups trying to make a difference in Panama. We chose to help Mari Pily with her shelter in Arraijan - she has hundreds of dogs and hundreds of cats - and more every month.

So here is my plea -

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

July 2012

I am late doing the update to my notes this week as I took off with the office crew to the Caribbean for a couple of days with no computers, just sun, beach, food and drink.

I am pretty sure everyone enjoyed themselves - other than being bitten a number of times I loved the water and the relaxation. The cove Ralph's place sits on is one of the prettiest, second only to the one we wanted to develop back 4 years ago.

Donna arrives home tonight from Norway. It will be great to have her home for more than a month this time. We have a few small projects around the condo but not much thankfully as I have Ted's place to get ready for new tenants and we have to find a new office, prepare it and move. Oh well - it will get done.

I read an interesting set of articles from Don Winner about the cost of living in Panama - if you haven't read it check it out http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php/panama-average-monthly-cost-of-living - it is early on in his number crunching but you will an idea of the spectrum of costs to live in Panama.

Since I told people I got my PADI certificate it is amazing how many of my friends are already certified - who knew - I can't wait for them to visit to go diving around Portobelo or even as far away as Coiba Island - said to be still pristine and home to lots of interesting birds. I understand the diving around it is amazing. Too bad you can't dive in the San Blas - there would be some pretty spectacular reefs to visit.

I am sure in the coming months we will see some visitors from Canada - I know our friends Alan & Geri have a house full this week :}

I spoke to Mari last week to get some idea of how she and the shelter were doing. Grim. She has so many dogs and cats that her weekly food bill alone is more than 900.00 - that does not count the vet bills or the special diets for the ones that have recently had surgery or who have ailments.

So here is my plea -

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

------------------------------

Donna is in Norway this week checking it out as a possible location for a tour in the future. It struck me so odd that she would be going to a country this is almost on the same latitude as Alaska and the Yukon territories to visit gardens. Stranger still is there is at least one location that is a tropical garden. Just like Ireland, Norway has an area served by the Atlantic Gulf Stream. I am interested to see her pictures when she gets back. This is also a first for her - she has no notebook with her - just her new IPad :} it is taking some getting used to but she has a girl friend with her that is very into her IPad to help her learn.

After more than a year trying, my partner Ted finally has a deal on his Ocean 2 property - it took a very professional, very active agent less than a week to find and put a deal together. Almost every other agent we talked with said how difficult it would be and how long it might take. Just goes to show what a connected professional can do.

All this means is we have a month to find a new office location. Alan & I went to see some here in Costa del Este on Friday - I figured with all the new commercial buildings that have come on the market in the past year and the number left to be delivered it would be simple and less costly. Not so. As we only need 100+ m2 the market was down to just a few choices and they were absurd - $500K for 1000 sq ft office - what part of Kansas am I in? Obviously we need to do some more looking. I hate to leave Costa del Este and the ability to walk to work but half a million for something 2/3 the size of my condo. Get real.

My PADI card arrived in the mail this week - so I am legit - I can now dive anywhere in the PADI world - my next step - Advanced Diver : here I come. I also got my diving wrist computer - to save me from using those charts :}

Going over to visit our foster pups today and taking them their weekly treats.

I spoke to Mari this week to get some idea of how she and the shelter were doing. Grim. She has so many dogs and cats that her weekly food bill alone is more than 900.00 - that does not count the vet bills or the special diets for the ones that have recently had surgery or who have ailments.

So here is my plea -

Can you spare $10 per month ??? Every Month

That is enough to cover the basic food cost of ONE dog or cat.

Please consider giving just $10 per month - go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org/index-2.html and give at least $10 per month -

or consider a one time donation to pay for one dog for a year.

Please do something - every month Mari scrambles to try and cover these costs and every month we get more emails of people needing help with strays in their area - it breaks Mari's heart but she has only so much to give -

Please help.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

-----------------

I hope all of our American friends had a great 4th of July. I remember living in Minot ND and enjoying the 4th with all our staff - so much more than most Canadians with July 1st. What was odd here this year is aparently the US Embassy celebrated the 4th with a party for Panamanians - not Americans - how odd.

Spending a quiet weekend with Donna as she heads out again next week - this time to Norway :} - I am looking forward to August and September as she will be home for both months - she'll probably get cabin fever being around me for two whole months :}

I've been dealing with real estate agents for Ted and his Ocean 2 condo - during this process I've actually met some very professional agents. Buying, selling, renting or putting a unit up for rent involves a totally different set of rules here in Panama then we would normally be used to North America. While it might be getting better it still has a very long way to go to make it as painless as it would be in the USA or Canada. I think one of the biggest things missing is the comfort to know that if anything goes wrong, and it can here or in North America, that there would be a way to legally rectify the problem. Here, there just is not that comfort. The rule of law is something almost foreign. If you are considering buying or selling or renting - get advise - ask other expats who they would recommend - do your due diligence before you put 5 cents down on anything.

Case in point, I have to sign a contract for a new service next week. The contract specifically spells our some very dire restrictions including a full 36 months of payments. The salesman assured me that 36 month requirements made no difference as the new laws of Panama allow consumers to break a contract with no penalties - would you believe him? I asked our lawyers - turns out he is right - the lawyers confirmed that is the case - how weird - why write a contract with these requirements knowing full well they mean nothing? At least I get to sign the contract and get the service installed.

North America is getting such odd weather. I talked to my partner in Vancouver and he said Friday, July 6th was the first day he would have actually called summer while at the same time in the US they are sweltering under oppressive heat and major storms and fires. Panama just chugs along - it is the raining season so we expect rain some time during the day and most days it does not disappoint :} but the mornings are normally amazing - so nice to take Cricket out for her morning walk - its the noon to mid afternoon that the storms / rain sets in normally.

The president of Panama came out this week and asked businesses to start staggering the work times of their employees as there numerous road and transit work being done and that with all the new initiatives there will be more in the coming months and years. He's right - some of the areas in Panama City are getting really bad to drive - via Brazil near Ave Israel or Calle 50 are horrible and they have just started to work on the over/under pass. I know that when they are done it will be a treat to go through those roads but for the time being it is terrible. The same is true all along via Espana with the metro line work - when the metro line is up and running I know it will remove tens, if not hundreds of thousands from the roads and with them taxis and bus traffic will reduce. It's just the time from now until 2014. Speaking of work - the new Panama Bay clean up, meaning the stopping of the practice of dumping raw sewage into the bay, replaced by a new sewage treatment plant out near the airport is well underway but it will be 2015 to see that finished - in the meantime the bay during low tide is horrible.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

----------------------------

Happy Canada Day - even though we moved to Panama almost 6 years ago that does not mean we lost any of our Canadianism - we are still very much Canadian - I decided when we arrived I wanted something to remind me of Canada all the time - so for the first time in my life (and likely the last) I braved my fear of needles and got a tattoo :} it is a take off on a really old Canadian beer company commercial. Here is a picture Donna took of it yesterday - it is on my right shoulder.

We decided with Donna home that we should take a weekend and go to the rental house near Portobelo and just kick back for the weekend. It also gives me time to finish my scuba testing in open water. The first day was awesome - I was at 25 feet and and it was no big deal. My instructor, Rey, from GoldenFrogScuba is really patient, and and excellent teacher. I feel very comfortable that he is taking his time and making sure I "get it" before we move on to another lesson. Day two will see me certified (baring anything silly). Next time I scuba I will bring my underwater camera that Stephen & Wes bought me when they visited. I didn't want to bring it during my final lessons - I will wait until I am certified. The color and fish on the reefs were incredible. I also brought back a tiny piece of rotting wood Rey says is part of a really old ship that was part of Drakes armada. How cool is that :}

You may have been reading about the speeding cameras in Panama. Well we went to pay our fine and get the picture. Turns out the speed was 61km in a 60km zone. How can their camera or our speedometer be that accurate - and worse, while at the counter paying the fine, the lady in front found out her speed was 60.1 - yes point 1 over the speed limit - and they still insisted she pay her 50 fine.

From Don Winners site I understand the government turned off the cameras but I never did hear why and for how long and if they expect to change this ridiculous zero tolerance policy - I agree speeding is wrong and dangerous - but be real and fine when the speed limit is breached by 10%or something like that.

Donna is home for one more week - really nice to have her around for more than just one day :} She only has two more trips this year but she is already booking well into 2014 :} and some really cool places and gardens planned. If you haven't noticed, I am really proud of her :}

Too bad that the time Donna is home is so stormy. We've had some incredible weather - not so much wind but the amount of rain - wow - it was a test of our new patio doors - they failed a bit with some water getting in under the bottom rail. While on the Caribbean, there has been some rains but not as much as I expected.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

 

June 2012

Nice to have Donna back home - if only for a couple of weeks :} - We went out for dinner last night to celebrate her birthday. We decided on the Golden Unicorn for chinese - yummy :}

Weather wise its been one of the better rainy season weeks - some rain but very little compared to previous weeks. Great to have a bit of a reprieve especially for Cricket.

Next weekend I head out to Portobelo to finish my diving training by taking my open water exam - I am really looking forward to getting certified. I am anxious to be able to check out some of the more famous dive sites around Panama.

The renos are done - the new patio doors are installed - Veasa did a great job - I would sure recommend them for anything glass related.

Speaking of references - just a cautionary tale. We chose to purchase some of our appliances in Miami and had them shipped over and while we got exactly what we wanted we had to forgo the warranty  - and as a result now that our washer has broken down we are going to have to replace it completely as the cost to repair is 6 dollars less than a new machine.

I've been interviewing real estate agents for Ted as he has now gotten serious about selling or renting. I've met with 3 different agents from 3 different companies and they are as different as you can get. It will be interesting to see which one Ted chooses to hire.

He decided this time around to appoint one agent as the exclusive agent in the hopes they will have the comfort to know that they will be paid their commission no matter who ends up bringing in the buyer - something still quite foreign here. Too often sellers simple give the listing to any agent and dozens list it for varied amounts - sometimes a lot more than the asking price in the hopes they can keep the balance.

I've mentioned SDS Wines before. It was a small wine shop located in the parque industrial here in Costa del Este. This was their last week here as they are moving to the San Francisco area - sad but I will still visit as they have some great wine choices and are very knowledgeable about all of their wines.

I meant to tell you last week about something new to Panama - traffic cameras that catch speeders. I heard about this at the office when one of the staff checked on line http://www.licencia.com.pa/historial/ and found she had a speeding ticket. No notice - just a ticket online. She went and paid the fine and got her picture -  it was her car - 63 km in 60 km zone. Geez - there is no way the cars speedometer is that accurate. What a cash cow - $50 for virtually every car past the camera. I wrote Don Winner and sure enough there are a dozen of these cameras around Panama and there will be more. And the kicker - these cameras are run by a private company that get to keep 65% of the ticket. Nice work if you can get it :} Within the same week though Don is now reporting the government suspended the cameras. So we shall see - I have no issue with cameras for speeding but make them so they recognize the lack of accuracy that most cars speedometers have and if you change your tires from the manufacturers specifications then your speedometer is off for sure.

If Panama is going to get serious about traffic laws, I would suggest they teach their police officers to enforce the simple infractions - like stop signs - or lights on cars or lane changes or driving the wrong way down a one way street because it is simpler than going around the block to get to a store or a home. Cameras are fine, but they should not replace honest police officers enforcing the existing laws.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

-----------------------------

First week in a long time I am writing where it won't involve a new restaurant - or any restaurant in Panama for that matter - I was in Los Angeles for a few days on business and Donna is in Italy. I know she is enjoying some amazing food and wine in Sienna.

After what feels like several years (its really only been 1) we are finally finishing Ted's condo in Ocean 2. He is going to selling it in the next few months - or at least that's the plan.

June continues to be stormy and our little Cricket just hates it - especially the afternoons in my office because the thunder reverberates around the room and she has no where to hide. I feel so bad but I know it doesn't last.

We start a small renovation on the condo, again I know, but it will only take 4 days according to Juan. We've talked about other condos but we love the location, our neighbours and the size so we don't see any real need and we bought this for such a good price it would be hard to find anything as good so we are just going to keep doing little things.

I am hoping to get to the causeway tomorrow morning to take Cricket for a walk - she had such a miserable late afternoon and night today.

I was catching up on what was going on in Panama while I was away and it is just the same old stuff - mainly politics and who is suing or arguing with who. I have to admit in the 6 years we have been here we have seen lots of improvements like the bus system, road improvements, sanitary/garbage disposal, and even some efforts toward litter control.

One thing interesting was a building in our area started almost 5 years ago but after only 3 stories it stopped and was abandoned. It was an eye sore for years. Then a few weeks ago they just started again. My first thought was I was pleased it would get finished, but then I wondered what would the concrete and rebar be like after all that time sitting in the weather.

Almost every week I hear from Mari about some dog she would really love to find a home - this week is Beba. Do you know anyone who would love a new friend? Email me or Mari please or visit Mari's facebook page. 

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

--------------------------------

June already. Half of 2012 gone already. In Canada we would still be working for the government. What a change. No taxes - haven't had any for almost 6 years. What is amazing is how much freer you feel, how much more money you have to either invest, save or spend. I can only imagine what this must have been like at the turn of the 20th century in North America - things booming and no taxes - everything you made you could invest, spend or save. No wonder things boomed and wealth was made. If we had done this 15 years ago our lives and future would have been so different. I am just glad we finally did make the move.

Don't get me wrong, I am still very proud to call myself Canadian - Canada has lots of faults but it is still home, I am still proud of it (most of the time for its world decisions) and am pleased it has never instituted a world wide income tax requirement like the USA. I hope I am long gone before they do.

Donna got home Wednesday night from her back to back tours in Morocco and London only to spend 2 days before she headed out this am for three more stops - Italy, Israel and Turkey. We won't see her again until just after her birthday. At least when these 3 trips are done she will have done 80% of her travel for this year so we can spend some time together.

Thanks to OfertaSimply we again tried a new restaurant - Habibis - located on calle Uruguay. Read my comments on our "food" page. We will be back there for sure. We went back to Sushi House here in Costa del Este last night as Donna did not want to cook either night she was home - another yummy meal.

Some interesting articles on Don Winners site this week - apparently the new tunnel from Channis to downtown is finished and this marks the start of the new water/sewage treatment efforts started by Pres Martinelli to clean up Panama Bay. Ten feet in diameter, it should be able to handle the storm and sewage runoff and be able to pump it to the new sewage treatment in Juan Dias - maybe in our time in Panama we will see the return of sand beaches on the Cinta Costera. Our neighbour Sandra remembers them when she was little.

A few more renos left in our condo to get done before Donna gets home. Amazing how difficult it can be to do something simple like get a quote done. Thank goodness for our handyman Juan - I'd have missed some really key pieces in the quotation on the latest item we are working on.

I told you last week about my new bank account in the Jersey Islands off England called HSBC Expat. I just received the new debit cards - this group is really quite impressive -

Almost every week I hear from Mari about some dog she would really love to find a home - this week is Beba. Do you know anyone who would love a new friend? Email me or Mari please or visit Mari's facebook page. 

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

-----------------------------------

May has certainly been a rainy and noisy month. Yesterday was one of the most torrential downpours and thunder & lightning storms - I was at Ocean 2 when it started - incredible - the amount of water that fell in less than an hour was hard to believe.

Went to a movie last night with our friends Alan & Geri - 3d Men in Black 3 - funny and well done - cost like $3.75 (old fart discount) - contrast that with 3d Avengers in NJ - cost almost $15 (no old fart discount)

Before the movie we went to Brits Burger bar - turns out this used to be Burgues - still good burgers (the ribs could have been more tender but they were tasty). 

I have one more trade show in LA to do but that will see the end of my travels other than to the caribbean - I still have to finish my scuba water tests - I can hardly wait :}

I went to SDS Wines on Saturday to pick up a couple of bottles only to find Oriol is moving in June to the San Francisco area - bummer - I am happy for him as I am sure he will do much better with a more retail location but I will miss being able to pop over to get some wine. If you have not visited and you love wine - Oriol is "THE" man when it comes to wine appreciation. Check out his facebook page or look up SDS International - or better yet visit his store in Costa del Este before he moves - some of the discounts run into 50% - amazing wines - great prices.

I read an interesting article in the Visitor this week - apparently the corridor sur will start forcing people to have a card or use the sur express vs using cash as it is just too congested - they finally figured out it takes many times longer to pay in cash vs swiping a card or going through the sur express method. Good for them - they have to do something as it is just silly in the morning and at night.

Alan and I were treated to a great night at the union club this week as guests of Ralph and John - I guess every thursday is pasta night - sweet - lots of good food and company. Too bad it is a closed environment - maybe a good business opportunity for someone - a new, less exclusive union club.

I told you last week about my new bank account in the Jersey Islands off England called HSBC Expat. I just received the new debit cards - this group is really quite impressive -

Almost every week I hear from Mari about some dog she would really love to find a home - this week is Beba. Do you know anyone who would love a new friend? Email me or Mari please or visit Mari's facebook page. 

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

May 2012

Donna is in England this week - she arrived there after almost 2 weeks in Morocco with her tour group. She has another 10 days before she is home for 2 days. Time enough to celebrate her birthday and then leave for Italy, Israel and Turkey.

I was in Newark this past week - our friends Alan and Geri looked after our aging, slightly cranky, loveable Cricket :} - I really appreciated knowing she was being cared for by two great people.

This weekend was catch up and prepare for the week to come - work is starting to get busy as it always does at this time of year. Kind of a double edge sword - need the grow but it is hard as we need to add some more people over the coming years to achieve our succession goals. I had a long chat about succession with one of our clients in NJ as he is facing the same thing with a very successful accounting practice but he is the sole owner and doesn't want to do this forever.

Newark was nice. I enjoyed the sushi I had at a little family run restaurant called Niko Niko. Went to a mall that everyone talked about in Jersey City - nothing too special in my opinion - Albrook or Multiplaza are as good or better.

I am on the hunt to buy Donna an Ipad - lots to learn and decide on especially about the options of wifi only or wifi and 4g - I know she would love the 4g but it is not easy when it comes to roaming with 4g all over the world the way she travels so I may end up sticking with wifi only this time around.

I told you last week about my new bank account in the Jersey Islands off England called HSBC Expat. When i arrived home everything they promised was here and I was able to use their secure key device to log into my new account online. Very slick - and simple. And now I can choose whatever currency I want for investment from Pounds to Australian Dollars. Too cool.

Lots of silliness going on around the world from Greece and its inability to come to grips with its woes to Facebooks IPO. I am not sure which is nuttier. I really don't understand the entitlement mentality in Greece - I've grown up having to work for everything and not expecting it to be just given to me. Retiring at 50 is a nice idea if you've earned it or saved for it - not just because your government decided that was a good idea. And Facebook - 100 Billion dollar value - maybe I am of the older generation but that just seems nuts - at least in my opinion.

Almost every week I hear from Mari about some dog she would really love to find a home - this week is Beba. Do you know anyone who would love a new friend? Email me or Mari please or visit Mari's facebook page. 

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

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First - Happy Mothers Day - I know it isn't Mothers Day in Panama but it is in Canada - so I want to take a minute to remember my mom and Donnas mom - both who have passed on several years ago. It would be hard to list everything I would love to say to my mom on Mothers Day - but I guess the best thing I can say is I love you and I am so thankful for everything you did for me over the years. You were the best mom anyone could have.

It was a quiet week in lots of ways. Donna is in Morocco and when she is finished with that tour group she is on to her Chelsea Flower Show tour group in London.

It's starting to get busier at the office - it usually does right after tax season - and this year we are going to have to do another move. I'm not really looking forward to that but it seems inevitable. What's so strange is I know there are hundreds of businesses operating out of apartment buildings but our new board has made their feelings known.

I caught up with the pictures of the changes in our area, Costa del Este. We've been taking the same 3 pictures from our balcony for almost 6 years and the changes are amazing. We've watched over 35 apartment towers built and more than 6 commercial buildings. Check out the pictures here  
http://www.whypanama.net/costadeleste-changes.htm

We went to another restaurant in our continuing use of the coupons from OfertaSimple. This time we went to El Morro in Bella Vista. Check out my comments in the food page - http://www.whypanama.net/food.htm

Speaking of food (yes I know do a lot :}) I had a great dinner over at our friends place last night - I think they take pity on me when Donna is away :}. also I ran across a web site called the Boquete Gourmet http://www.boquetegourmet.com/ - lots of interesting things but it doesn't seem that up to date so I sent an email - hopefully I will hear from them. There are a number of things I would love to ask. I will let you know.

Like everywhere in the world, each week Panama has tons of news items - most of them I find of no interest as they are political in nature or reports of some drug or other illegal activities.

Every once in a while I run across some item worth reading.

This past week it was a report of the Panamanian government giving away 93,000 laptops to school kids - free - and in addition they have a government group organized to not just give them away but help teach the kids to use the laptops wisely. It's one of those things that can make the difference in some child's life - to have access to a computer of their own helps put them on the same footing as a child in North America.

I was talking to one of my clients this past week about what Warren Buffet calls the "ovarian lottery" meaning how blessed some of us were to be born in a 1st world county. He was born in Canada but his father was Indian and came to Canada with $300 in his pocket and a family to support. How incredibly fortunate we are to have the "starting point" of a North American upbringing. Doesn't mean we are going to be a Warren Buffet but it does guarantee a level of future potential only dreamed of in other countries.

One item I hear from Expats all the time is how difficult it is to open a bank account both here in Panama and elsewhere in the world. I am pleased to tell you I found a really simple alternative - it's called HSBC Expat and is bank dedicated to solving that very issue - make it easy to open a bank account offshore without having to visit - http://www.expat.hsbc.com/1/2/ - we were able to open an account by downloading, filling in the forms and sending via courier. No visits, no hassles. Simple.

Almost every week I hear from Mari about some dog she would really love to find a home - this week is Beba. Do you know anyone who would love a new friend? Email me or Mari please or visit Mari's facebook page. 

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

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I spent the last week in New York on business. I arrived in Newark to temperatures of less than 60 degrees F - yuck - on top of that I was just starting a cold that I inherited from Donna when she returned from Holland. My voice was almost non existent during the 3 days I was in business meetings - I croaked all through them - thankfully my business partner was there or it would have been really bad :} - I loved stepping off the plane here in Panama Friday night - to feel the warmth again.

Regardless of the cold (both temperature and my chest cold) I still enjoyed being in New York - I love the diversity. We went to a show and I went to the oldest pub called McSorley's (thanks to Alan for telling me to check it out).

I did not get to the world trade center site - I hope to do that the next time.

If you find yourself complaining about the rising costs of Panama let me tell you - New York was brutal - breakfast - 22.00 - coffee 3.99 - cabs - 80 to the airport - road tolls - 8.20.

I also checked out some real estate - a small (under 120 m2) condo in Manhattan - anywhere from 1.2 - 3.4 million - not 2000 m2 but 20,000 m2

And the crowds - albeit I arrived at rush hour and went out after the meeting during rush hour but the crush of people on the street and in the subway was incredible.

Donna headed off to lead her next two tour groups in Morocco and England - she is really looking forward to these two groups - she loves the area and the gardens.

Donna received an email this week from Iris Todd-Lewis. Iris wanted to let Donna know she enjoyed this site and to let her know about her blog she created to chronicle their move from Canada to Pedasi and the construction of their new home. Check it out - www.postcardsfrompanama.net - so many things sound so familiar - I am sure you will enjoy following their experiences.

One item I hear from Expats all the time is how difficult it is to open a bank account both here in Panama and elsewhere in the world. I am pleased to tell you I found a really simple alternative - it's called HSBC Expat and is bank dedicated to solving that very issue - make it easy to open a bank account offshore without having to visit - http://www.expat.hsbc.com/1/2/ - we were able to open an account by downloading, filling in the forms and sending via courier. No visits, no hassles. Simple.

Almost every week I hear from Mari about some dog she would really love to find a home - this week is Beba. Do you know anyone who would love a new friend? Email me or Mari please or visit Mari's facebook page. 

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

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One of the most common questions I get when I talk to people about Panama is "what about health care?" Is it good - is it expensive - can you get insurance - is it expensive - what are the hospitals like - do the doctors speak English? Most of these come from our Canadian friends especially considering the how much stock Canadians put in the "free" health care in Canada.

For the first 4 years we had Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance but it was designed to cover the cost of visits to doctors or hospitals but we never used it. So when we had a chance we evaluated all the options available and decided there were two types of insurance - coverage for normal heath care on a daily/weekly or annual basis and what's considered catastrophic coverage. The later kicks in only when there are huge costs to cover and generally have large deductible. We changed and chose the later. The comfort is that no matter how serious the health event the insurance will cover it no matter where we are in the world. And the cost - in my mind a fraction of what we paid in Canada - no that is not heresy - in my mind we paid huge premiums for the "free health care" in Canada through our income tax.

Having said that - the service here is as good or better than what I received in Canada. My doctor, Paz Rodriguez, moved here from New Mexico, runs Wellmed Clinic in Marbella - he focuses on wellness and spends any amount of time explaining the results of the options available. The hospitals like Hospital Punta Pacifica are new, clean and efficient for as much as I can tell only having to have had the services of their emergency room.

I passed my written part of the PADI underwater Scuba course - now I have to do my open water part. I will be going to Portobelo a couple of Saturday/Sundays to finish it with Rey from GoldenFrogScuba I can't wait to try my hand at scuba. I never thought I would or could as I have always had such bad luck with a left ear eustachian tube not clearing all the time. When I was in Roatan Honduras I tried Snuba - a cross between scuba and snorkeling and I had no issue getting down to 10-15 feet.

MY business partner TEd send me a link to a really cool YouTube video this week that gives you a a feeling what Panama was like in the old days when the canal was being constructed. Click on the picture, turn up your sound and enjoy the presentation.

We are always looking for interesting things to do with our friends and I just asked for some more information on Blue Cruise Sailing in Panama- sailing out of Boca Chica - I will let you know when I find out more.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

 

April 2012

Donna is in Holland this week and from all accounts her biggest tour group ever is doing well - albeit they have their fair share of challenges. I am so  proud of Donna - if I had told her 20 years ago she'd have her own company and would globe trotting with groups of people she would have committed me :}

Alan & Geri and I went to Sabor de India last night - another in a long line of restaurants we are trying thanks to OfertaSimple. Check out the review in the food area.

I went to a meeting on Thursday hosted by Envita - a group who hosts a series of meetings in Casco Viejo. This particular get together was a presentation by Kent Davis of Panama Equity - it was interesting and I am really pleased someone in the RE business is trying to put some sense to the RE market in Panama. I wish he had a bit more information on Costa del Este.

When we moved into our condo in Costa del Este beside the river the only thing that was annoying was the sea of white floating down the river when it rained. Now however there is a distinctive odour that reminds me of the Panama Bay in front of Balboa Ave/Cinta Costera. This unpleasant smell began when the government started constructing the sewage system from downtown to past the airport. Something makes me think they have some "breaks" in the line. I sure hope they get it right and get rid of the smell.



I had a chance to visit our foster pups here in Costa del Este. Almost 6 years ago we spotted a dog near our condo at a security guards shack that looked awful - he was one mass of mange - we had him treated and looked after feeding him. A year or so later he was joined by the cutest little pup - we had them both spayed/neutered and moved them to Chitos location when they tore down the guard shack. Sadly our original Pastorcita was killed by a pack of other dogs so we had to find a replacement for Pastor as he was so lonely. Mari Piliy from the Hogar Alberque San Roque came through with our new Pastorcita.

Both of them are looking great albeit I think Pastor is stealing some food from Pastorcita as she is not bulking up as much as I would have expected and Pastor is not getting any slimmer. 

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

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Donna heads our to host her 2nd tour group of 2012. She just got back from hosting the trip to Northern India with a group of 11 guests and now she is off to Holland with a group of 105 - incredible - she has 3 coaches to transport them all - 3 other hosts to help her and 3 guides to keep the guests informed. I won't see much of her now until almost July as she has 3 more tour groups in that time and 3 other countries to visit as possible future tours. What an amazing lady I am married to ...

Our friends Wes and Stephen (our next door neighbours for almost 15 years when we lived in St. Albert) are wrapping up their visit to Panama. We just spent the weekend on the Costa Arriba near Portobelo. A great friend arranged to have a boat pick us all up near Isla Grande and take us to another friends place along the coast to meet some people and see his place then on to Ralphs own house near Nombre de Dios.

While at Ralphs we enjoyed some homemade arroz con coco and roasted chicken. Porfirio makes the best arroz con coco - its all fresh ingredients - yum:}

Yesterday we took at trip across the top of the canal locks to the other coast - Costa Abajo - and drove to the end of the road at Miguel de la Borda. That coast is almost uninhabited - a few small villages along 40 km of road and beach.

We stopped on the way home and bought 6 fresh lobsters from boys selling them on the side of the road -  6 good sized lobsters for $30 - I am sure we could have haggled but we were all tired and just wanted to get back to the beach house to cook them.

Wes did his chef thing and made pasta and lobster.

Everyone leaves tomorrow - Donna for Holland - Wes and Stephen for Alberta.

I really enjoy having company - I love showing off our new home - Panama.

When we were on the cruise with Alan & Geri I got the chance to "snuba" (a cross between scuba and snorkeling). It convinced me I could handle scuba so I signed up for lessons with Rey at GoldenFrogScuba I can't wait to get going - but I will have to wait until Donna gets home in May.

Stephen & Wes bought me a cool new toy - a Fujifilm XP - waterproof to 20 feet, drop proof to 5 feet - and sand/dust proof - I had so much fun taking the camera into the pool and Caribbean - it takes amazing underwater photos and best of all - video underwater - how cool will that be when I finally get to scuba:}

Here are some of the pictures from our 3 day trip to the house we rent on the beach near Portobelo.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

-----------------------

Donna arrived home, Alan & Geri went away, our old neighbours and great friends Stephen & Wes arrived - the rain started - it's been quite a week.

I love having company. It gives me a chance to relive why we fell in love with Panama 6 years ago. We showed Stephen & Wes Panama Viejo, Casco Viejo, Miraflores and Albrook - what more could you want. Well we added a trek into the waterways around the canal with Gamboa tours - we visited Monkey Island and saw up close how cheeky monkeys can be and laughed when a troop of howler monkeys started their thunderous noise. Everyone expected to see something the size of a mountain gorilla not smaller monkeys :}

Monday we packed Stephen and Wes off to Hotel Punta Galeon Resort for 2 nights to enjoy the Pearl Islands then this weekend we are off to the Caribbean to the house we rent near Portobelo. We know they will go home loving Panama and maybe it won't be 6 years before they visit again.

In less than 2 weeks we've gone from brown grass and fields to green every where - it is amazing what a little bit of rain can do - it might be winter / fall here but it feels more like spring.

Easter in Panama - the city is quiet with everyone off to the interior - driving around the city last Friday was a zoo - seemed like every car was trying to get over one of the two bridges.

I told you a bit about how some contractors work here in Panama - how poor their work can be and then when you try and withhold funds they threaten to sue you, your company, everyone involved personally and corporately. And being sued here does not mean you go to court to defend your position - but here they approach a judge and ask the judge to seize all the defending parties assets - meaning freezing bank accounts, corporate workings - everything while the case is heard in court. I've never felt so angry and it taught me a lesson - keep a minimum amount of any assets in Panama - hold the rest offshore. I wish I'd had before this as I would have loved to see this company in court - as it was we had to settle and pay them to back off. A very expensive lesson.

Do you have a dog or cat? Does your heart ache when you see a dog or cat suffering -- so do we - and our friend Mari Pily - she has hundreds of dogs and cats she cares for at the Arraijan shelter -

If you can help - please check out the shelters site - www.theyneedyourhelp.org or her facebook page called Hogar Albergue San Roque - make a donation - encourage your friends to donate - it costs her thousands every month to keep the pups and kittens fed and kept healthy.

 

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Check out our food page for our latest disaster Fire + Ice on our food page here.  Rarely do we run across this poor an example of a restaurant.

We are looking forward to this week - our old neighbours from St. Albert are finally coming to visit. After almost 6 years Steve and Wes booked their tickets and are coming. They are going to have a great two weeks. They are going to see the Pearl Islands, the Caribbean side of Panama, the canal, the rainforest around Gamboa, shopping at Albrook and of course food - lots of food - we are going to visit some our favourite restaurants = especially in Casco Viejo.

Did you read Evans latest article in in Eye on Panama about service in Panama? if not, read it hear. I agree a lot with Evan, but also as I told him - we have run across some excellent service at Continental, our lawyers and our handyman.

Do we enjoy living in Panama - yes - yes -- We spoke with our great friends Wayne & Elaine in Edmonton. They returned home for their daughters birthing but boy were they unimpressed with the weather - imagine - almost 2 feet of snow in April in less than 24 hours.

We love getting up every morning and going for our walk.

Donna starts traveling again in 2 weeks - oh well I am so proud of her.

On the other hand did we have a wake up call this week. Over the past 2 years I have been helping my partner get the work done on his condo in Costa del Este. We've paid the invoices for him as he is still in Canada. One of the contractors hired by my partners interior designer was so bad my partner decided to tell them to forget being paid the remaining balance as he was going to have to redo almost all the work and it was going to cost him thousands. The designer talked to the local authorities ACADECO and after reviewing the documents they said my partner had a case for sure.

Well anywhere in the world the contractor would do what ever to satisfy my partner or decide to sue him. Well not in Panama - the contractor decided to sue both the interior designer and ME - yes ME - i just paid the bills - I don't own the condo - never hired them - but it turns out in Panama they can sue anyone. When we talked to our lawyers we asked what that meant - well what a wake up call. According to our lawyer the contractor can go to a judge, tell them they are going to sue ME and ask the judge to instruct my bank to freeze ALL my funds and the account until the suit is settled. It doesn't matter that the suit might be for 10k and the funds on deposit are more than that - they just freeze the account and even if you pay the bill it might take the judge a week or several years to unfreeze the account. So what is the take away - keep no significant amount in the bank in Panama.

If you haven't been reading the site for a while you may not not why we have this site - it is to help other expats  thinking about WhyPanama -- if you have considering Panama - feel free to email us. 

 

March  2012

A change in pace this week. I have to tell you about an amazing thing that happened to me last week.

Cricket and I were out for her morning constitution and on our way back to the condo I noticed something on our front entry walkway near the front door. As we go closer I realized it was a hummingbird that had obviously hit the windows. I didn't know if it was dead, stunned or had something broken.

When I looked closer it appeared still alive so i tried gently moving it to see if it's neck was ok and that seemed fine - and so next I tried to check the wings to see if they looked broken. They too appeared ok so I thought maybe it was just stunned. Or I hoped that was the case. I didn't want to leave it there as there way too many cats around so I decided to try and pick it up - it was so cool - its tiny, tiny little feet clenched on to my finger when I picked it up.

It still wasn't moving but the clenched toes let me know there was awareness.

Up the three of us went to our condo and finally to our little tiny balcony.

I tried offering it some of the flowers on the balcony as I know hummingbirds need to feed alot. It did not seem interested but I wasn't sure if it was just the type of flowers or it really wasn't interested so I made some sugar water and offered it - -no real interest in it either.

So after another few minutes I thought I should check its wings again to see if maybe I'd missed something downstairs. I was also starting to think about what I was going to do with a hummingbird for a pet if it decided not to fly.

I picked it up again and felt the same clenching of the feet on my finger. It is so unreal to have something that small and fragile sitting on your finger. I gently pulled the wings out again to see if they were misshapen - no - so I held if for a while longer and within a few minutes I could feel some movement - and he/she was off - not far, and not fast, but off my finger and near the flowers hovering for a moment or two -- then gone done.

As post script - later that day I was reading at the balcony table when out the corner of my eye I spotted a hummingbird near our balcony flowers. I wanted to think it was him/her returning.

If you haven't been reading the site for a while you may not not why we have this site - it is to help other expats  thinking about WhyPanama -- if you have considering Panama - feel free to email us. 

 

_________________

I missed my update again the last two weeks but I had an excuse - Donna & I took a cruise out of Colon with Royal Caribbean - our friends Alan & Geri went with us - we did two cruises back to back - this is the last time RC is going to do the northern Caribbean and as we'd never seen those areas before we thought it would be interesting. The first week was new to us (we've done the southern route 3 times before). We stopped at Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Honduras and Columbia. Every port is different but I think we all agreed the second week was the better of the two and the one RC will be keeping. We've already booked our next years cruise :} I will have the pictures of these two cruises on Donna's ICanGarden.com by tomorrow night so check them out here.

I want to thank Mari Pily for finding a new friend for our adopted pup Pastor - he lost our other adopted pup Pastorcita who died in the past couple of months - his new friend arrived this week and from all reports they got along famously - we will be visiting when we get back. I am hoping to get a chance to meet our new little girl tomorrow.

Donna has started her travels for this year and is currently in India for another week. She has so many amazing tours to do this year and for the first time in 14 years all of them are booked solid. I am so proud of her. I know she is going to be exhausted by the end of the year as she will have gone to over 9 countries in 10 months. I won't get too much time with her until almost August. Oh well, Cricket and I will make the best of it - that's the price of success :}

We have old friends coming to visit in April - this will be their first trip to Panama - I am so looking forward to showing them our new home. We have some time planned on the Caribbean I know they are going to love that as well as a visit to Monkey Island and an eco tour of the canal. I am sure there will be lots of restaurants involved too :}

Sick things in the news this week - not directly Panama related but since we've been here food has become more of an item especially beef. According to the news the meat industry uses something called "meat glue" - the youtube video on this has been making the rounds all week - imagine taking little chunks of meat, adding some "white powder" (that is not safe to breath) and rolling it all together and after refrigeration - voila - a perfect looking lean piece of "solid" meat  - yuckkk - and the other is something called "pink slime" - little bits of unsafe beef processed and returned to ground beef additive - unbelievable

I was standing at our living room balcony the other evening looking at the condos in our area and I was actually amazed at how many were occupied. By the looks if it most have at least 70+% of the units lived in. This may be a function of the time of year too as it is summer here and some of the condos are second homes to people from other countries but I was still surprised especially when you consider how dark an area like Punta Pacifica still is when you drive in along the Corridor Sur at night. I am really pleased we ended up choosing Costa del Este vs some other parts of the city. I promise to have some pictures of this online later - just having some technical trouble getting the pics off the camera :}

I really believe this area will only get better. One thing the government will need to deal with (like everywhere else in Panama) is the traffic. In the mornings and after work, the number of cars crawling along our main road is incredible. Worst still is that there are about 9 new commercial buildings that will be occupied by this time next year. I can only imagine what the traffic will be like then. The good news is that this area is home to some of the wealthier old families who have lots of influence and I am sure as they become even more frustrated they will get results.

I read an article this week I need to check on but if true is a HUGE step forward for Panama and all of its animals - as reported on Don Winners site, Panama-Guide.com

"The National Assembly yesterday approved Law 308, which seeks to safeguard and protect animals and domestic pets. The purpose of this law is to prevent, eradicate and punish mistreatment, neglect, and acts of cruelty against domestic animals."

I hope this is true and if so I know Mari and her group will be looking to find any cases that need prosecuting - the dogs and cats of Panama deserve this law.

Every month we have someone email asking questions about Panama - how we have liked living here or asking some advice - other than my weekly notes and our restaurant reviews that is what this site is for - for other Canadians (or Americans, Europeans etc) ask questions. We've been so blessed with the people and services we have run into during our time. Take our new lawyers for instance, Rudolfo, de Rozas and Túnon - Jair and Jair have been great to work with and understand dealing with expats.

If you haven't been reading the site for a while you may not not why we have this site - it is to help other expats  thinking about WhyPanama -- if you have considering Panama - feel free to email us. 

 

 

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I missed my update last week as I had to return to Canada for a week to visit my sister who was not well.

It has been sometime since I have been back in Canada. We've been in Panama for over 6 years and it is always amazing when I go back to Canada - especially when it comes to driving - it is so different driving around Canada vs Panama. I had to focus on remembering stop signs actually mean stop in Canada - versus being just suggestions :}

I didn't miss the lack of noise from the cars, or the trash in some of the areas in Panama but I sure missed the weather. Cold I am not fond of - I was never fond of it but after 6 years in Panama I am even less fond of the cold. Even inside the house - the floors are so cold. Yuck!

I will say I enjoyed visiting with my family, sisters, brothers in law and nieces - I even got to meet my great niece Marketa who is only 8 months old - I can't imagine what she was thinking about when I was left to care for her in the hospital while her mom, my niece, was in visiting my sister.

The one thing I really did enjoy was a bakery franchise called Cobbs - boy was their bread delicious - my brother in law John stops by a few times a week to pick up fresh bread - I love baking bread but I envy the ability to just stop by and pick up a loaf of great sour dough or grain bread. We used to have a bakery in Costa del Este, the Petit Paris, but it closed. I don't know if it is a cultural thing to not appreciate great bread - but that is odd as Mexico used to have great bakeries everywhere. Oh well, I guess I will have to just bake more frequently.

I want to thank Mari Pily for finding a new friend for our adopted pup Pastor - he lost our other adopted pup Pastorcita who died in the past couple of months - his new friend arrived this week and from all reports they got along famously - we will be visiting when we get back.

Carnival is over for another - thank goodness we don't live downtown near the revelry. When we used to go to Mazatlan during Carnival it was more family oriented than a full on party. Perhaps in the interior of Panama Carnival is observed more like in Mexico.

I had to meet with our lawyers this week and I was interested to find that they've working with a number of clients in the interior and they told me how many of the lands along the Pacific have seen titling on the ROP lands - but their opinion was so different when we talked about the Caribbean coast. In their opinion the Caribbean is still being ignored when it comes to moving ahead in titling the ROP lands. What a shame. The Caribbean is one of the most amazing beaches and shore lines. I am sure at least one of the major developers will discover this area and within 10 years it will explode when others discover it as well. 

Monday the school kids return to school  - I am so fortunate I don't have to drive into the city nor any of our employees - the traffic is nuts that first week - it never really gets much better during the days of school.

One of the oddest thefts last week - two men stole 2 historic cannons from Fort San Lorenzo in Colon - sold for scrap - they were found in a container with other pieces of history -like train wheels presumed to be from 1909.

Every month we have someone email asking questions about Panama - how we have liked living here or asking some advice - other than my weekly notes and our restaurant reviews that is what this site is for - for other Canadians (or Americans, Europeans etc) ask questions. We've been so blessed with the people and services we have run into during our time. Take our new lawyers for instance, Rudolfo, de Rozas and Túnon - Jair and Jair have been great to work with and understand dealing with expats.

If you haven't been reading the site for a while you may not not why we have this site - it is to help other expats  thinking about WhyPanama -- if you have considering Panama - feel free to email us. 

 

February  2012

You've probably read my numerous posts over the years about the lack of service in most establishments in Panama. Well this week I have to report a "first".

Like most weeks the topic of discussion near the end of the week was what restaurant were we going to try or more accurately what coupon from OfertaSimple - this week we chose a small Caribbean restaurant in El Cangrejo called appropriately El Caribe.

El Caribe is located on via Argentina next to Los Cedres, close to the small park. Of course finding a place to park the car was a challenge but we did find a spot not too far away. First impressions are of a small unassuming restaurant. We were greeted by Sr Jackson, our waiter. El Caribe turns out to be Panamanian Caribbean - think Colon - each of our orders, the goat, lagostinas, and the fish were so yummy - there was not a scrap left. The service was excellent, pleasant and really helpful - all the suggestions were first rate.

The "first" was not the service, price or quality of food - we've had those in various forms - the first was we received an email from the owner Maritza asking us how we enjoyed our visit - this lady should be doing courses on customer service - we will go back - for sure. Check out all our reviews on our food page

Most of the uprisings have abated enough to let fruits and vegetables back into Panama City - nice to see. I really don't know all the facts in the case but it sure spurred some passionate feelings on the part of the natives.

I am always learning here in Panama - now it seems I need to find out the legal differences of Domestic and Commercial employees - maybe I am naive but an employee is an employee - someone who works for you for pay - I understand employees have different roles and job descriptions but to tell me - "you don't understand - that doesn't apply because they are 'domestic' employees not commercial employees - so I need to spend time with our lawyers - who knew.

i meant to mention that there is a very goo reports on the state of real estate in Panama you should read if you have any interest in owning a condo or home in Panama - check it out at on The Panama Perspective site here

The weather has been glorious - or at least I think so - I know some who feel it is too hot - I love it - I love the dry season breezes and the heat. I have to go to Canada on family business next week and to think about zero or 2-3 degrees - yuck - but it always makes me so thankful to come home.

Six months without a cable company and still loving it - we've been exploring NetFlix and Amazon Prime and we've never been wanting for something to watch. I did try using Netflix out at the beach and it saw me in Panama so it offered a very limited selection - good thing we are on Panetma in the city - Netflix and Amazon all see us in the USA.

I know so many of the locals here in Panama believe that spaying and neutering is "cruel". well they should have to look after the little kittens that get run over on the street or care for the dogs that are so emaciated that you wonder how they can even function. Everywhere we drive outside of CdeE we see so many strays and starving animals that no one seems to care for -- it is why we try and give often to Mari's shelter in Arraijan - she has such a huge heart - I can't figure out how she juggles her full time professional career with running the shelters and raising money or finding food. Imagine having to feed more than 200 mouths every month and care for their infirmities - each dog or cat can easily cost 20 per month - so that's 4000 per month - she has lots of faithful friends that help out but they don't add up to what's needed.

If you think you can help in some small way we have set up a site where you can donate either using PayPal or your credit card - every dollar we receive from the site we try and match when we get it to the shelter. so think of how much you are really giving. go to www.theyneedyourlove.org and donate  - please.

Our next big time will be our cruise with our friends Alan & Geri - we have two one week cruises booked back to back. Our next group of friends coming are scheduled in April but there may be others like John who we'd love to see again. With the new Hop On Hop Off buses running around Panama they can now start with a basic tour, see Amador or Casco Viejo and stop and look around and get back on - Donna does this all the time in England - what a great new service - our friends should love it.

If you haven't been reading the site for a while you may not not why we have this site - it is to help other expats  thinking about WhyPanama -- if you have considering Panama - feel free to email us. 

 

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Have you ever had a real barber shop shave? My business partner has had one every time he has visited Panama in the past number of months and he finally convinced Alan & me to not shave for a few days and join him for a "real shave". It was what I expected from seeing movies of guys sitting in barbershop chairs with their faces covered in warm towels before the barber whips it off and starts shaving. Thanks Ted. I am not sure I will do it often but maybe once in a while.

This week in Panama the big news is the road closures in the interior of Panama. It even affected one of our staff members wanting to go home to David over the weekend using the bus - she ended up having to take a plane - at almost 10 x the cost.

The reason for the road closure is the anger of the native Ngäbe-Buglé over the governments decision to allow mining within their lands and to give permission to create more dams for hydro electric power. From what I read the road closure has been getting nastier and there will be violence and I don't doubt some people will get hurt. Reminds me sometimes of the native road closures in Canada back a few decades ago. Hopefully this will get resolved and both sides will find a way of making it a win-win. We were commenting yesterday over dinner that it was odd that Riba didn't have any papaya - well it didn't dawn us that the road closure means no more fruit or vegetables from the interior.

Unlike last year, this is a true dry season - everything is brown, dry and they are having to send water trucks around to keep some of the plants and trees alive until the rains start again.

Great to hear that Royal Caribbean Cruise lines confirmed their 2013 presence in Colon - means we will booking our new cruise this year for 2013.

Around Costa del Este it was nice to see the sign for a new commercial mall next to the new Westin Hotel - our little area has grown up in the five years we've been here. We've seen more restaurants, shops, and of course more commercial buildings. Considering I want to keep walking to our office I am happy there is more selection. When we first set up our first office there was a choice of the industrial park or the Motta building.

We've seen Papa Johns, Il Grillo, Sushi House and  soon to be Tres Scalini. Interesting that there have not been tons of fast food restaurants, yes, there is a Subway and a Tamburrelli pizza but you have to go outside CdeE for McD's or KFC. I suspect these will come as the population grows. The other new thing is a brand new automated car wash - really odd, why when the cost of labour is so low would you risk your car going through wildly spinning cloths.

Did I tell you about a service available at the Tocumen airport in Panama City - the ability to have someone meet you or your guest at the gate when they arrive, take them through customs and immigration, to a waiting area until their bags arrive and then to their waiting driver - how cool.

I know so many of the locals here in Panama believe that spaying and neutering is "cruel". well they should have to look after the little kittens that get run over on the street or care for the dogs that are so emaciated that you wonder how they can even function. Everywhere we drive outside of CdeE we see so many strays and starving animals that no one seems to care for -- it is why we try and give often to Mari's shelter in Arraijan - she has such a huge heart - I can't figure out how she juggles her full time professional career with running the shelters and raising money or finding food. Imagine having to feed more than 200 mouths every month and care for their infirmities - each dog or cat can easily cost 20 per month - so that's 4000 per month - she has lots of faithful friends that help out but they don't add up to what's needed.

If you think you can help in some small way we have set up a site where you can donate either using PayPal or your credit card - every dollar we receive from the site we try and match when we get it to the shelter. so think of how much you are really giving. go to www.theyneedyourlove.org and donate  - please.

Our next big time will be our cruise with our friends Alan & Geri - we have two one week cruises booked back to back. My sister and her husband are coming to Panama to babysit our little furry child (Cricket) :} I know they will have a blast - I have them scheduled to do a 1/2 day visit to Gamboa rainforest and lots of other visits.

If you haven't been reading the site for a while you may not not why we have this site - it is to help other expats  thinking about WhyPanama -- if you have considering Panama - feel free to email us. 

 

-----------------

Last week we had guests in from Canada. Alex and his wife spent 10 days out at the new Westin Playa Bonita across the Bridge of the Americas. This was their first time to Panama and the first week in an all inclusive was a great way to start. Then they spent the second week in Ted's condo in Costa del Este CdeE). We had the chance to play host and tour guide showing them Panama Viejo, Casco Viejo and Miraflores. I love the reaction of everyone that see these things for the first time - reminds me of our first trip back in April 2006.

We enjoyed some nice dinners too. We visited Il Grillo, our favourite Italian restaurant in CdeE as wel as the Sushi House. When we went to Casco Viejo we had a beer and sushi at Cerverca Y Ceviche in plaza Bolivar before going to dinner at El Diabolico. We'll go back to the Ceviche bar for nibblies but this was my second visit to El Diabolico and while the food was fine and the service good I found it overpriced.

Every time I visit Casco Viejo I wonder what it would really be like to live there. I love the ambiance and the food :} (I am sure if you read this site you think all I do is talk about food - not true - I do a lot but not ALL :})

I've been working on getting all of Donna's site cleaned up before she starts her major travels this year. We changed the whole look and feel to www.icangarden.com - we also added a section that showcases the gardens around the world - and it is setup like the map I have on my wall with pins denoting all the locations Donna has visited. Speaking of her travels - she is visiting no less than 8 countries from India to Israel - Turkey to South Africa - I will be missing her a lot this year - but I am so proud of her - she will have 8 full tour groups for the first time since she started doing tours in 1998. I may even get to go on one next year - she is doing Argentina and I need to visit Mendoza and the wineries :}

Speaking of Mendoza, I just finished reviewing a pre-release of a book called the Unquenchable - what a great read - if you enjoy wines - treat yourself to it when you see it come out for sale.

I know so many of the locals here in Panama believe that spaying and neutering is "cruel". well they should have to look after the little kittens that get run over on the street or care for the dogs that are so emaciated that you wonder how they can even function. Everywhere we drive outside of CdeE we see so many strays and starving animals that no one seems to care for -- it is why we try and give often to Mari's shelter in Arraijan - she has such a huge heart - I can't figure out how she juggles her full time professional career with running the shelters and raising money or finding food. Imagine having to feed more than 200 mouths every month and care for their infirmities - each dog or cat can easily cost 20 per month - so that's 4000 per month - she has lots of faithful friends that help out but they don't add up to what's needed.

If you think you can help in some small way we have set up a site where you can donate either using PayPal or your credit card - every dollar we receive from the site we try and match when we get it to the shelter. so think of how much you are really giving. go to www.theyneedyourlove.org and donate  - please.

We went away this weekend to a house we rent near Portobelo - the weather cooperated perfectly, the pool was awesome and food marvelous. We both got a chance to rest and enjoy the time before it gets busy.

We have several friends visiting over the coming months and I am looking forward to each of them - I know most of them are buried in minus 20 below weather with really ugly roads - they need a break.

Our next big time will be our cruise with our friends Alan & Geri - we have two one week cruises booked back to back. My sister and her husband are coming to Panama to babysit our little furry child (Cricket) :} I know they will have a blast - I have them scheduled to do a 1/2 day visit to Gamboa rainforest and lots of other visits.

If you haven't been reading the site for a while you may not not why we have this site - it is to help other expats  thinking about WhyPanama -- if you have considering Panama - feel free to email us. 

 

January  2012

It's fun when friends visit. In the past 5 years we've had a number of our friends come to check out Panama and to see what caused us to move. Even though we created this site "Why Panama" for exactly that reason, they still like to see if to for themselves.

We understand Panama is not for everyone. Not everyone enjoys the heat or humidity 365 days a year. Not everyone likes the lack of seasons. Not everyone enjoys being outside their element and in a new and different culture. Not everyone is ok with being the minority and not understanding the bulk of what is going on around them. When friends visit, lots enjoy their stay but look forward to getting back to the comfort of "home".

Donna and I talk about this a lot. In our 5 years there have been times when it has been frustrating and annoying. There have been times when inwardly you ask "am I still happy with our decision to move here" and the fact we are still here after 5 years means we always end up answering "yes". When the heat gets too much we turn on the a/c. For the most part we enjoy the breezes but when they drop off we do have to resort to a/c, especially for Donna as she is working in the home office.

It seems from reading a number of the ex-pat sites that a lot of ex-pats that make the move to Panama end up moving again within a couple of years. The ones that make it beyond the 2 years seem to last for a very long time.

If you are one of those people reading everything you can on Panama and follow some of the information we post on this site and if you have questions we'd be happy to try and answer them. We sure don't have all the answers but we are happy to give you what we can.

There are lots of web sites you should consider reading - I mentioned one last week - www.eyeonpanama.com, this one from a young perspective, newsy you can check out www.panama-guide.com or to give you a totally opposite point of view http://www.thepanamanews.com - you should also check out all the "groups" on Yahoo - there is a wealth of information and interesting people that post. Be warned, not everything you read is true or should be considered accurate - there is a ton of really bizzare bits of information floating around.

I started by saying Panama is not for everyone, I mean it - but if you enjoy something a bit different and are willing to step out of your comfort zone it is a great place to live.

Panama Tourism released a series of new videos you need to check out - they are really well done and do Panama's spectacular scenery justice - here is one - check out the other links too

http://www.youtube.com/v/UhG52CJjcMs&hl
http://www.youtube.com/v/936GmAf1SS4&hl
http://www.youtube.com/v/9CGEWUnXAkY&hl
http://www.youtube.com/v/ca996Z3JEt0&hl

I told you about our loss - our little adopted pup Pastorcita died a few weeks ago from injuries sustained after being attacked. Pastor has been so lonely - we asked Mari to help find a new friend for Pastor from the shelter - I am so pleased to report Pastors new friend will arrive after the new years fireworks are over.

It's the time of the year for giving - please remember the shelter - Mari feeds hundreds of dogs and cats every month - it costs hers thousands of dollars in food and medicine - I am proud to say that our friends and faithful donators on www.TheyNeedYourLove.org have given Mari and the shelter over 1000 last year - I know we can do more - will you help? I would love to report back next year that we were able to double the donations.

Mari also set up a facebook page - click here to see her page - the Hogar Albergue we also set up a page to support them - click here Hogar Albergue San Roque and Support the San Roque Shelter

Donate - please.

Are you interested in a hotel in Bocas - one of our friends, Sally has a hotel she had built right downtown Bocas - she needs to go back to the USA for many reasons - if you are interested check out http://www.viviun.com/AD-163394/

 

--------------------------

Happy New Year - I hope 2012 turns out to be a spectacular year for everyone. In spite of some mishaps in 2011 it was a great year all around. Donna's business has done really well and is looking at an unprecedented 2012. TPS had yet another banner year. We really are blessed.

I don't know how you chose to celebrate New Years - we had our neighbours Sandra & Jose Luis, Alan & Geri and their friends from Canada - Jacob and Kathy - we had a meat and cheese fondue - yummmm - did that bring back memories - that used to be a tradition every New Years eve but since we've moved here we've had something else.

Speaking of food - and yes, I know I do a lot of that :} we used another coupon from OfertaSimple - we went to LT Signature Restaurant in the ManRey Hotel - take from me - do yourself a favour and go there - the food is some of the best we've had here and the prices are great. The food is served so thoughtfully - like our welcome bread - it was a pop-over - a giant pop-over - and what a unique way to enjoy some bread to start. My 4 cheese pizza was better than my homemade - and you have to know that is hard to say.

And speaking of making things, our oven has been going crazy - I am so happy we decided to splurge and get this new oven - what a treat to enjoy freshed baked bread ( and this case - cinnamon buns with pecans and garlic cheese loaves ).

I would have thought with the return of the ex-president Manuel Noriega we'd have heard more of an uproar, and truthfully I was a bit concerned but there has been absolutely nothing I have been aware of - thankfully.

The dry season has officially arrived. Little or no rain, more wind, more sun - loving it :}

I read a fun article this last week by Evan at www.eyeonpanama.com - it was called "let's be honest about our Spanish fluency" - check it out. It you don't read his articles you should. It can give you a totally different perspective on living in Panama from a North American's point of view and what's refreshing is he is young :} not another old fart ex-pat :} There are lots of great sites for information on Panama - this is just my opinion :}

Panama Tourism released a series of new videos you need to check out - they are really well done and do Panama's spectacular scenery justice - here is one - check out the other links too

http://www.youtube.com/v/UhG52CJjcMs&hl
http://www.youtube.com/v/936GmAf1SS4&hl
http://www.youtube.com/v/9CGEWUnXAkY&hl
http://www.youtube.com/v/ca996Z3JEt0&hl

I told you about our loss - our little adopted pup Pastorcita died a few weeks ago from injuries sustained after being attacked. Pastor has been so lonely - we asked Mari to help find a new friend for Pastor from the shelter - I am so pleased to report Pastors new friend will arrive after the new years fireworks are over.

It's the time of the year for giving - please remember the shelter - Mari feeds hundreds of dogs and cats every month - it costs hers thousands of dollars in food and medicine - I am proud to say that our friends and faithful donators on www.TheyNeedYourLove.org have given Mari and the shelter over 1000 last year - I know we can do more - will you help? I would love to report back next year that we were able to double the donations.

Mari also set up a facebook page - click here to see her page - the Hogar Albergue we also set up a page to support them - click here Hogar Albergue San Roque and Support the San Roque Shelter

Donate - please.

Are you interested in a hotel in Bocas - one of our friends, Sally has a hotel she had built right downtown Bocas - she needs to go back to the USA for many reasons - if you are interested check out http://www.viviun.com/AD-163394/  

 

Read the comments from the other years

More News  - 2011
More News  - 2010

More News  - 2009
More News  - 2008 & earlier

 




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